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Abolitionism Resources and Links

Theme: Social Changes and Social Reform
Topic: Abolitionism
Date: March 2004

Annotated Bibliography: Secondary Sources | Annotated Bibliography: Primary Sources
Websites and Web Resources | Related Archives and Collections | Other

Resources and Links compiled and annotated by Gayle Fischer, Ph.D.,
Associate Professor, Department of History, Salem State College ( and SALEM in History staff

Annotated Bibliography

Compiled and annotated by Gayle Fischer, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of History, Salem State College ( and SALEM in History staff

Secondary Sources

Abbott, Richard H. Cotton and Capital: Boston Businessmen and Antislavery Reform, 1854-1868. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1991.

Alonso, Harriet Hyman. Growing Up Abolitionist: The Story of the Garrison Children. University of Massachusetts Press, 2002.

A portrait of a close-knit family dedicated to ending slavery and social injustice. The lives of the Garrison children were shaped within the context of the great nineteenth-century campaigns against slavery, racism, violence, war, imperialism, and the repression of women.

Bender, Thomas, John Ashworth, David Brion Davis, and Thomas L. Haskell, eds. The Antislavery Debate: Capitalism and Abolitionism as a Problem in Historical Interpretation. University of California Press, 1992.

This volume brings together one of the most provocative debates among historians in recent years. The center of controversy is the emergence of the anti-slavery movement in the United States and Britain and the relation of capitalism to the development.

Blackett, R.J.M. Building an Antislavery Wall: Black Americans in the Atlantic Abolitionist Movement, 1830-1860. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1982.

Explores the ways in which Black Americans in England worked to promote their own freedom in the U.S.

Collison, Gary L. "Alexander Burton and Salem's 'Fugitive Slave Riot' of 1851." Essex Institute Historical Collections 128, no. 1 (1992): 17-26.

Dixon, Chris. Perfecting the Family: Antislavery Marriages in Nineteenth-Century America. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1997.

Analyzing eight marriages of radical white abolitionists, Dixon found their domestic lives sharply contrasted with the subjugated domestic environment of antebellum America. Abolitionists perceived their marriages as an epitome of their reformism.

Eisan, Frances K. Saint or Demon? The Legendary Delia Webster Opposing Slavery. New York: Pace University Press, 1998.

This biography is a study of a New England spinster who played an important part in the Underground Railroad.

Grover, Kathryn. The Fugitive's Gibraltar: Escaping Slaves and Abolition in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Amherst: University of Mass Press, 2001.

Kathryn Grover documents fugitive traffic in and around New Bedford and analyzes it within several spheres-the origins, persistence, and growth of the city's African American community; the place of Quaker ideology in shaping the extent and character of local opposition to slavery; and the role of the city's coastal trading and whaling industries in the presence of fugitives in the port.

Goodman, Paul. Of One Blood: Abolitionism and the Origins of Racial Equality. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

Through this work, Goodman puts abolitionism in the social context of its time: the temperance movement, a budding feminist movement, and growing concern about the heartlessness of capitalism and the industrial revolution. He highlights the role of freed blacks in pushing for equality and resisting efforts, or movements, to send blacks back to Africa.

Hamilton, Virginia. Anthony Burns: The Defeat and Triumph of a Fugitive Slave. Laurel Leaf, 1993. Grade 7 Up.

In 1854, Anthony Burns, a 20-year-old black man, was put on trial in Boston under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Abolitionist activity and the efforts of lawyers, black ministers, and humanitarians to prevent the return of the prisoner to Virginia caused demonstrations by mobs of citizens, the calling out of 2000 militia, and several episodes of violence during the proceedings. Retelling the day-by-day events of the trial which polarized the city, Hamilton shows the kind of political issue which brought the nation to fever pitch in the decade before the Civil War.

Hansen, Debra Gold. Strained Sisterhood: Gender and Class in the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society. Univ. of Massachusetts Press, 1993.

Antebellum Boston is the setting for this study of the conflicted and short-lived (1833-40) Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society. This book examines the socioeconomic climate in which women of various classes lived at the time and takes apart the membership of the antislavery society.

Hersh, Blanche Glassman. The Slavery of Sex: Feminists-Abolitionists in America. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1978.

Hewitt, Nancy A. Women's Activism and Social Change: Rochester, New York, 1822-1872. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1984.

Examines three groups of Rochester women who moved outside of the private sphere to try to affect change and eliminate social ills. Looks at the various demographic factors and ideological influences on each group and links these to the specific types of social change activities in which they were engaged.

Horton, James Oliver, and Lois E. Horton. In Hope of Liberty: Culture, Community, and Protest Among Northern Free Blacks, 1700-1860. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Spanning the 200 years and eight generations from the colonial slave trade to the Civil War, this history illuminates the free black communities of the antebellum North as they struggled to reconcile conflicting cultural identities and to work for social change in an atmosphere of racial injustice.

Jacobs, Donald M., ed. Courage and Conscience: Black and White Abolitionists in Boston. Published for the Boston Athenaeum. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993.

This collection of ten essays explored the people of Boston and the role of the city of Boston in the abolitionist movement. Boston had a relatively small African-American population in the 19th century, but it was home to one of the active (and militant) abolitionist movements in the United States.

Jeffrey, Julie Roy. The Great Silent Army of Abolitionism: Ordinary Women in the Antislavery Movement. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998.

Jeffrey describes how abolitionism in the north in the 1850's became "normalized" within many communities. Jeffrey argues that this is largely because of women. Draws upon records of many female anti-slavery societies, including the one in Salem, MA.

Lerner, Gerda. The Grimke Sisters from South Carolina: Pioneers for Woman's Rights and Abolition. New York: Schocken Books, 1971.

McKivigan, John R. The War Against Proslavery Religion: Abolitionism and the Northern Churches, 1830-1865. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1984.

Investigates the role that churches played-or didn't play-in the abolition movement. Covers issues such as the divisions between some Northern and Southern churches within the same denomination, the debates within churches over slavery and abolitionism and brings to light the fact that churches were not always at the forefront of the abolition movement.

Mayer, Henry. All on Fire: William Lloyd Garrison and the Abolition Of Slavery. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998.

Mayer maintains that Garrison, a self-made man of scanty formal education who founded and edited the abolitionist newspaper The Liberator, not only served as the catalyst for the abolition of slavery, but inspired two generations of activists in civil rights and the women's movement.

Melish, Joanne Pope. Disowning Slavery: Gradual Emancipation and "Race" in New England, 1780-1860. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1998.

Following the abolition of slavery in New England, white citizens seemed to forget that it had ever existed there. Drawing on a wide array of primary sources--from slaveowners' diaries to children's daybooks to racist broadsides--Joanne Pope Melish reveals not only how northern society changed but how its perceptions changed, and how the collective amnesia about local slavery's existence became a significant component of New England regional identity.

Olsen, Christopher, Jr. "'Molly Pitcher' of the Mississippi Whigs: The Editorial Career of Mrs. Harriet N. Prewett." Journal of Mississippi History 58 (Fall 1996): 237-254.

Prewett was editor of the Yazoo City Weekly Whig, in which she advocated traditional gender roles and supported slavery.

Pease, Jane H., and William H. Pease. Bound with Them in Chains: A Biographical History of the Antislavery Movement. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1982.

Quarles, Benjamin. Black Abolitionists. New York: Oxford University Press, 1969.

A respected and standard overview of the title topic: the role of Black Americans in the abolitionist movement.

Renehan, Edward J. The Secret Six: The True Tale of the Men Who Conspired With John Brown. University of South Carolina Press, 1997.

Renehan provides a significant addition to the literature on abolitionism in this study of six prominent Northerners who supported and financed John Brown's 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry, Va. (now W.Va.).

Roediger, David and Martin Blatt. The Meaning of Slavery in the North. New York: Garland Pub., 1998.

This collection of essays focuses on the central role of slavery in the early development of industrialization in the United States as well as on the interconnections among the histories of African Americans, women, and labor.

Savage, Kirk. Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves: Race, War, and Monument in Nineteenth-Century America. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1997.

Investigating the meaning of race, the experience of war, and the function of the public monument, Savage probes the landscape of collective memory on which the art forms of commemoration in the public sphere depicted the shift from slavery to freedom in post-Civil War America, the greatest era of U.S. monument building.

Smith, Mark M. Debating Slavery: Economy and Society in the Antebellum American South. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Makes clear that even while slavery existed, Americans debated slavery. Asks pointed questions: Was it a profitable and healthy institution? If so, for who? Asserts that the abolition of slavery in 1865 did not end this debate, and it still remains among the most hotly disputed topics in American history.

Strong, Douglas M. Perfectionist Politics: Abolitionism and the Religious Tensions of American Democracy. New York: Syracuse University Press, 1998.

The struggle among the most radical religions to purge their churches and society of sin, especially slavery, and their uncompromising efforts to force morality into political discourse are nowhere better told than in historian Strong's informed exegesis of perfectionist ideas and personalities and his careful mapping of the schisms and political awakenings across western New York, from which so much antebellum reform and evangelism emerged.

Van Broekhoven, Deborah Bingham. The Devotion of These Women: Rhode Island in the Antislavery Network. University of Massachusetts Press, 2002.

During the 1830s the small state of Rhode Island flourished as a center of radical abolitionism. By 1842 the antislavery movement in Rhode Island was nearly moribund. This detailed study explores how and why women emerged from the background to resuscitate and lead the antislavery cause in Rhode Island. It suggests that women more than men were accustomed to working behind the scenes, informally and without much public recognition.

Von Frank, Albert J. The Trials of Anthony Burns: Freedom and Slavery in Emerson's Boston. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1998.

This is the story of Burns's trial and of how, arising in abolitionist Boston just as the incendiary Kansas-Nebraska Act took effect, it revolutionized the moral and political climate in Massachusetts and sent shock waves through the nation.

White, Deborah Gray. Let My People Go: African Americans 1804-1860 (The Young Oxford History of African Americans, v. 4). Oxford University Press, 1996. Grade 6 Up.

"White chronicles the active roles of both slaves and free blacks in abolishing slavery. She details what life was like for free blacks in the South. Black-and-white drawings, documents, and photos all help to convey the harsh realities of the time. The antebellum period in American history receives a compelling examination in this handsome, scholarly book." School Library Journal

Yee, Shirley J. Black Women Abolitionists: A Study in Activism, 1828-1860. University of Tennessee Press, 1992.

Argues that racism among reformers propelled black women reformers toward separate action and identity.

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Primary Sources/Primary Sources Included: Print

Billington, Ray Allen, ed. Journal of Charlotte Forten: A Free Negro in the Slave Era. The Dryden Press/Collier Books, 1953.

Cain, William E., ed. William Lloyd Garrison and the Fight against Slavery: Selections From The Liberator. Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martin's Press, 1985.

Finkelman, Paul, ed. His Soul Goes Marching On: Responses to John Brown and the Harpers Ferry Raid. University of Virginia Press, 1995.

Fitch, Suzanne Pullon. Sojourner Truth as Orator: Wit, Story, and Song. (Great American Orators, no. 25). Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1997.

This book provides a comprehensive survey of the life of Sojourner Truth, and includes a unique and authoritative compilation of primary rhetorical documents, such as speeches, songs, and public letters.

Forten, Charlotte L. The Journals of Charlotte Forten Grimké / edited by Brenda Stevenson. New York : Oxford University Press, 1989.

Garrison, Wendell Phillips, and Francis Jackson Garrison. William Lloyd Garrison: The Story of His Life Told by His Children. New York: Century, 1885-89.

Goodell, William. Slavery and Anti-slavery: A History of the Great Struggle in Both Hemispheres. New York: William Goodell, 1853.

Lowance, Mason, ed. Against Slavery: An Abolitionist Reader. New York: Penguin Books, 2000.

Mason Lowance has assembled more than forty speeches, lectures, and essays to trace the evolution of the abolitionist crusade.

Merill, Walter, ed. The Letters of William Lloyd Garrison. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1971.

Mullane, Deirdre, ed. Crossing the Danger Water: Three Hundred Years of African-American Writing. New York: Doubleday (Anchor Books), 1993.

Beginning with Olaudah Equiano's 1789 slave narrative and ending with Congresswoman Maxine Waters's testimony before the Senate Banking Committee in 1992 on the Los Angeles riots, this anthology brings together a diversity of voices. It includes fiction, autobiography, poetry, songs, and letters. Many topics are covered, from slavery, education, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and political issues to spirituals, songs of the Civil Rights movement, and rap music.

Quarles, Benjamin. Allies for Freedom and Blacks on John Brown. DaCapo Press, 2001.

This volume presents two classic works by Benjamin Quarles about the place of John Brown in African-American history. Allies for Freedom traces John Brown's life as an abolitionist, working to guide slaves peacefully to freedom via the Underground Railroad and culminating in the famous raid he led on the federal arsenal and armory at Harper's Ferry. Blacks on John Brown brings together reflections on John Brown that were written by blacks from several generations.

Sterling, Dorothy, ed. Turning the World Upside Down: The Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women, Held in New York City, May 9-12, 1837. New York: the Feminist Press at the City University of New York, 1987.

Sterling, Dorothy. We are Your Sisters: Black Women in the Nineteenth Century. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1984 [reissued 1997].

We Are Your Sisters, a collection of letters, oral histories, and excerpts from diaries and autobiographies, is "a documentary portrayal of black women who lived between 1800 and the 1880s." There are letters from women such as Rosetta Douglass Sprague, the daughter of Frederick Douglass; accounts of the doings of upper-class blacks in the years following the Civil War; and excerpts from the diary of Frances Rollin, author of a biography of black activist and Civil War soldier Martin Delany.

Stevens, Charles Emery. Anthony Burns: A History. Williamstown, Mass.: Corner House, 1973. Reprint of an 1856 publication.

Tragle, Henry Irving. The Southampton Slave Revolt of 1831: A Compilation of Source Material. Amherst, MA: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1971.

Wilson, Henry Wilson. History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America. Boston: James R. Osgood and Company, 1872.

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Websites and Web Resources

Compiled and annotated by SALEM in History staff

American Abolitionism

This should be your first stop. This is a wonderful gateway into the vast resources (digital and archival and bibliographic) on the web related to the American Abolitionism. Developed by faculty members and graduate students at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, this project offers a number of resources for those interested in studying the American Abolitionist Movement. In addition to providing links to many other resources, (including a number of digital collections on line) the creators of this site have written detailed historical essays full of pertinent information about and interpretation of the long history of slavery and abolitionism, illustrated with primary sources. Other immensely useful portions of this site include a section of historical maps to use to teach about abolitionism, and lengthy bibliographies of scholarly work. The links from this site will take you to most of the significant collections and on-line resources available on Abolitionism.

African American Odyssey: A Quest for Full Citizenship

This site, a project of American Memory, showcases a wide range of the Library of Congress' marvelous African-American collections. Includes commentary, background and numerous primary sources (from photographs and song lyrics to manuscript sources, maps and published material). Divided into nine sections that extend chronologically and topically from "Slavery" to "Civil Rights," this site includes extended looks at slavery, free Blacks, abolitionism, the Civil War, efforts to secure rights in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Great Depression and WWII and segregation. The direct link: "Abolition, Anti-Slavery and the Rise of the Sectional Controversy."

Abolition section of the African-American Mosaic Exhibition (Library of Congress)

This is an online exhibit that provides samples of the types of materials covered in the Abolitionism section of the publication: The African-American Mosaic: A Library of Congress Resource Guide for the Study of Black History and Culture. Also includes links to other materials at the Library of Congress.

Antislavery Lesson Plan Old Sturbridge Village

On the main page select the link for Education-a drop down menu will appear, select Curriculum Plans-links to several units and lesson plans will appear including the link to the antislavery lesson plan. All of the documents are from the New England area and provide information about the growing concern about slavery in the United States during the first half of the nineteenth century.

Cobblestone (February 2003): The Underground Railroad: Abolitionist Movement Issue.

Teacher's Guide: The issue includes articles on the Fugitive Slave laws of 1793 and 1850, the Abolitionist movement and the men and women who were part of that, and the establishment of planned communities for escaped slaves in Canada. Free Articles from Cobblestone are available, including: "A Mystery in the Basement": Do disintegrating clay faces carved in a tunnel below an 1840s church represent evidence of an Underground Railroad stop? "Robinsons of Vermont": This brave family helped countless blacks escape slavery.

Freedom's Journal

The first African-American owned and operated newspaper published in the United States. The Journal was published weekly in New York City from 1827 to 1829. Freedom's Journal provided international, national, and regional information on current events and contained editorials declaiming slavery, lynching, and other injustices. All 103 issues of the Freedom's Journal have been digitized and placed into Adobe Acrobat format. PLEASE NOTE: Each file is over 1 megabyte in size, refer to the file size information next to the link before clicking on the link.

The Long Road to Justice: The African American Experience in the Massachusetts Courts

This curriculum is geared towards middle- and high-school students. The heart of the curriculum materials is the "Teachers' Guide," written by Roberta Logan and developed by Primary Source of Watertown, MA. Teacher's Guide table of contents includes: "From Slavery to Freedom" by Robert Hall; "The Sarah Roberts Case in Historical Perspective" by George Dargo; a bibliography of teacher resources, student reading list, archives, and websites. The Teachers' Sourcebook is available at no cost to middle- and high-school teachers and administrators. Any interested educator should contact to request a copy. The Massachusetts Historical Society has other curriculum tools as well (although not necessarily about slavery or abolition).

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Set to open in August of 2004, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio is a museum and educational center aimed at inspiring and supporting acts of freedom by educating the public about the history of the Underground Railroad and the fight to abolish slavery and attain freedom for all people. The Center's exhibits and programs emphasize the lessons of courage and cooperation that made the Underground Railroad possible. The website includes a section for students, and one for teachers with some lesson plans. More will be added over time and teachers are encouraged to send their lessons in to be part of a larger pool made available to the public.

Museum of Afro American History, Boston

In addition to offering information about the stories that the Museum tells (related to the once thriving African American community on Boston's Beacon Hill) this website's "Links" section offers links to a wide and impressive array of additional cultural and historical resources related to African American history, abolitionism, education etc., including archives and collections locally and nationwide.

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Related Archives and Collections

None listed at this time

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Museum of Afro American History, Boston

Located on Joy Street on Beacon Hill, in what once was the heart of Boston's 19th century African American community, the Museum, its programs and its historic structures tell the story of a thriving black community, its institutions and organizations. The African Meeting House and the Abiel Smith School are two significant national treasures, reflecting and representing the work and strivings of a community, as well as the role that Boston's African American community played in political and social changes from slavery through the Civil War. Both are open to the public and exhibits and programs focus on the experience of African Americans from slavery through the 19th century. These structures are stops on the Black Heritage Trail, a walking tour that explores the history of Boston's 19th century African American community. Guided tours are conducted by the National Park Service, and self-guided tour brochures are available at the Museum of Afro American History, Boston. Contact the museum for more information about the Black Heritage Trail. The Museum's website offers a great deal of information about its two main structures and the subjects its exhibits explore. The website also offers links to other cultural and historical resources, including archives and collections locally and nationwide.

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